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Power supply to fit in my old Dell machine?

Joshua B

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Hi. First post. I'm new to WHS after a Technet download and my first install on an old Dell Optiplex GX280 mid-tower that I bought used just for running it. WHS and this box are retiring a D-Link DNS-321. It's so much faster! It's running 4 SATA hard drives thanks to a PCI add-in card with two internal SATA II connectors, 2 gigs of RAM. The processor is a P4 2.0 ghz. I use the server mostly for serving my FLAC music collection (mostly ripped from my CDs) to my PCs and Sonos, and also some torrent downloads, but look forward to using it in new ways in the future.



Should I upgrade the 250 watt stock power supply? I had decided to but didn't do enough research. I ordered this "ENERMAX ECO80+ EES620AWT 620W ATX12V V2.31 SLI & Crossfire Ready Compatible w/Core i7 80PLUS Certified w/Magnetic Magma Fan Active PFC Power Supply":



When it arrived I finally realized that Dell's power supply has non-standard placement C14 connector and on/off switch. So I guess no standard power supply will work with this case? I want to keep the power supply for a future PC build. But for now, do you think I should continue to run my machine with the stock power supply? If not, what power supply will work? Dell brand only?


Here's a shot of the non-standard power supply.




Thanks for any advice.

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A couple of things come to mind when I read your post. Are you really set on keeping the P4? That box uses a lot of energy and probably is producing a lot of heat. Are you having a problem that makes you suspect a bad power supply? Using the specs you listed (P4 2Ghz, 4 SATA drives, 1 PCI SATA Card) I ran some numbers using a power supply calculator and depending on the assumptions you are right near the limit on the power supply.


You could go with a power supply like this one from PC Power and Cooling. It looks like it is listed as a drop in replacement for your PC.


If you check out the BYOB forum topics you will see that some other forum members have built Core i3 systems pretty inexpensively. They have listed the parts they used, including cases, power supplies, motherboards, etc. You would use less power, there would be less fan noise, less heat generated and much faster than a single core Pentium 4.


Good luck and keep us posted on what you decide to do. And welcome to our forums!

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Thanks so much! That power supply looks great. 6 SATA connectors too.


I mistyped my P4's speed, it's 2.8 gigahertz, not 2.


No problems with the current operation of the machine. I am just a little worried about loading up on drives like I have and power.


Yes, I've been reading through the i3 builds and have been really intrigued. The fact is that I buy used computers and put too much money into upgrading them when I should build new machines.


So right now I'm unsure of what I'll do. Again, I really appreciate your advice and research.

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No problem. I am happy to help when I can.


The guys that do the BYOB (build your own box) podcast are very knowledgeable and can really help you if you are thinking about building a PC or simply upgrading what you have. The main players, pcdoc and no-control on the forums, are happy to answer your questions (along with the rest of us, too).

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That is the only problem I have with them. I don't know why they can't use standard hardwell. Oh well, they build great machines at a great cost so I guess it isn't too much of a problem given I still buy them.

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Joshua B,


I will give you my two cents. Assuming your system runs 24/7, I am guessing that your P4 will draw about twice out of the wall that a I3 or D510 will with about 1/2 of the CPU power (compared to the I3). Since you bought a nice power supply, I would put that into an inexpensive case or a non dell case you already have and slowly build up a new server using an atom D510 or my personal choice, the Intel core I3-530. In the long run it will be a better choice. If you really want to replace your supply now and save some money, you can also consider using a new case, the new PS you just bought, and move the motherboard out the dell case and and into the new case/PS. Then, when you are ready, you can throw in a new motherboard etc... Make sure the bolt patterns are the same but I "think" that it will fit but it may not have a connector plate which should not be a big deal for a short term solution. That being said, if you system is running now, I would not worry too much but I would recommend that you use green drives (will also help when your port to a new system). The power draw from the green drives should not add too much stress to your power supply. In summary, the P4 was great in its time but for WHS applications, it is not the best choice. Sooner or later you will probably want to address that with a more powerful and power efficient solution.



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pcdoc is right. The P4 is a power hog compared to an i3-530, and even more so compared to an Atom-based system. If all you're really after is a place to backup your important files, media streaming to your home network or HTPC, and the PC backup feature, consider a dual-core Atom system. Very low power, and quite decent performance as long as you don't get into CPU-intensive things like transcoding of movie files.


D510 Atom board - $90

2 x 1 GB RAM ----- $50

Antec 300 case ---- $60 (very affordable case with plenty of room to grow, and decent cooling)

PS --------------------- $00 (using the one you just bought)



Total w/o HDD's -- $200


*Add about $100 for an i3-based system with associated mobo


Oh, and the other thing about the Optiplex system is that it's a lot noisier that any new build will be, especially with a fairly decent case like the one I mentioned.

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Thanks so much guys. If you think you haven't sparked an inkling for me to build a new machine...think again. :-)


Just to follow up on a couple questions and points from Mike, my server is always on. I do have 2 WD Green drives in there now. I forgot to mention I also use WHS to back up my PC and my wife's.


That Antec 300 case looks nice...six 3.5” internal HDD spots!


By the way, I subscribe to both the BYOB podcast and the Home Server Show and love them.


Without trying to move this topic in too many directions, let me ask another question. My HTPC is a Core 2 Duo E4600 (2.4 GHz). Would that be a good processor for an always on WHS machine or does it still use too much power? My thought is that my new build could be a new HTPC and my current HTPC could become the WHS.

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Do you have a Kill A Watt? Or some other power measuring device? If not, they're sold on Newegg.com for around $20. That'll give you an idea on power usage of you machines. Check what your HTPC is pulling now and you can project what a WHS with a couple additional drives will pull.


It sounds like you're focused on using as little power as possible in your WHS. In that case, you have to decide if you can deal with an Atom-based machine. It really hinges on how much beyond typical use you need from your WHS. Again, if you expect to be doing CPU-intensive stuff, then you'll want to step up to the i3.


I can tell you that an idle i3 system with a single HDD draws about 35 W. By comparison, an idle dual-core atom with a single HDD draws around 20 W.


And yes, the Antec 300 is a nice case. It has room for two additional fans - 140mm's, I think - in the front.

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As dvn stated, the atom is a bit more power efficient however for longevity as well as being in position for future upgrades, I would suggest you go for the extra $100 and get the I3. Both of my production servers as well as my test server are I3 and they just simply run great. Allow a bit more freedom in the software and addins you run. Either way will be a major improvement and let us know what you decide. Good luck.

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